FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEEPA TUESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2000 (202) 260-4355
TDD (202) 514-1888
SETTLEMENT REQUIRES NEW MEXICO COMPANY TO CLEAN UP
POLLUTION, PAY $1.65 MILLION
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sparton Technology, Inc. will clean up soil and a plume of groundwater contamination associated with its Albuquerque facility under a settlement filed today in federal court in Albuquerque, the U.S. EPA and the Justice Department announced.
The Rio Rancho, NM-based company must also pay $1 million to the New Mexico Natural Resources Trustee for natural resource damages; a $293,500 penalty to the United States for violating a 1998 cleanup order; $181,500 in civil penalties that will go to the State of New Mexico; and $200,000 in litigation costs to the State of New Mexico and the City of Albuquerque.
"This settlement will protect drinking water for the City of Albuquerque," said Lois J. Schiffer, the Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. "The comprehensive cleanup requirements and civil penalty embodied in this settlement demonstrate our commitment to ensure that polluters take responsibility for the problems they create."
The agreement also settles related civil actions filed by the State of New Mexico, the New Mexico Environment Department, the New Mexico Natural Resources Trustee, the City of Albuquerque, and the Bernallilo County Board of Commissioners. The settlement also dismisses with prejudice a suit filed by Sparton against the EPA relating to certain actions taken by the agency concerning Sparton's Albuquerque facility, and provides the United States a full release with respect to those actions.
Gregg A. Cooke, the Regional Administrator for EPA Region 6 in Dallas, said "EPA worked closely with State and local officials to develop a comprehensive and effective strategy for cleaning up contamination at the Sparton plant. This Consent Decree and the clean up which will follow demonstrates EPA's commitment to work with its state and local partners to ensure protection of the environment."
The Sparton plant, which once produced electronic components, generated hazardous metal plating and solvent wastes at its site in Northwest Albuquerque. The pollution -- primarily trichloroethylene and trichloroethane, which the EPA has deemed probable human carcinogens - seeped into the soil and groundwater in amounts exceeding federal drinking water standards and state groundwater standards. The affected groundwater is part of a group of aquifers that is the sole source of drinking water for the Albuquerque area.
Sparton failed to meet deadlines in a 1998 EPA order to submit work plans for cleaning up contamination, leading to a civil penalty. The company has begun some work required under the settlement, such as installing a system to prevent the further spread of groundwater contamination. Sparton is also required to:
- install a groundwater recovery system near the plant site to cut off the flow of contaminants from the plant site to the off-site plume;
- operate a soil vapor extraction system to remove contaminants from contaminated soils;
- assess whether these systems are effectively restoring the groundwater and evaluate whether alternate remedial strategies should be employed. Sparton's evaluation of alternate remedial strategies is subject to approval by the EPA and the New Mexico Environment Department.
These corrective actions will prevent further migration of the contaminant plume; reduce the quantity of chemical sources in the soil and groundwater; minimize further release of contaminants to the surrounding groundwater and ensure that no additional groundwater is contaminated; and restore the contaminated aquifer to the more stringent of federal or state standards, or alternative cleanup standards, if appropriate.
The Consent Decree will become legally binding once it is approved and entered by the District Court, following a 30-day public comment period.